The premiers of Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have committed to collaborate on developing nuclear reactor technology in Canada. Doug Ford, Scott Moe and Blaine Higgs made the announcement and signed a memorandum of understanding recently in advance of a meeting of all the premiers. They will be working on the research, development and building of small modular reactors as a way to help their individual provinces reduce carbon emissions and move away from non-renewable energy sources like coal.
SMRs are actually not very close to entering operation in Canada. Natural Resources Canada released an ‘SMR roadmap’ last year, with a series of recommendations about regulation readiness and waste management for SMRs. In Canada, about a dozen companies are currently in pre-licensing with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which is reviewing their designs.
Canada’s Paris targets are to lower total emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Moe says the reactors would help Saskatchewan reach a 70 per cent reduction by that year. The provinces’ three energy ministries will meet in the new year to discuss how to move forward and by the fall a fully-fledged strategy for the reactors is expected to be ready. However, don’t expect to see them popping up in a nearby field anytime soon. It’s estimated it will take five to 10 years before they’re built.
Traditional nuclear reactors used in Canada typically generate about 800 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power about 600,000 homes at once (assuming that 1 megawatt can power about 750 homes). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN organization for nuclear co-operation, considers a nuclear reactor to be “small” if it generates under 300 megawatts.